Entrancing mushrooms

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I spent the day in Easton, Maryland yesterday on the Chesapeake Bay for a new project and while walking around outside, was astonished by the number of unusual mushrooms I saw growing everywhere.

The structure of these little plants always intrique me; the ribbing, the spots and the cupping -they're so amazing and rather architectural, don't you think?

I know nothing about mushrooms so would never even think of trying to taste or touch any of them for fear of poisoning, but always appreciate them. I had never seen any this yellow green color before.

This monster mushroom had numerous heads and was probably 12" in diameter! I suppose there was one good thing to come from this wet, humid weather we've been having: mushrooms!
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McGorlick Park

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While in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, I came across a small city park that I had never heard of in Greenpoint, which was surprising considering its' loveliness, Monsignor McGorlick Park.Opened in 1891, the park gained beautiful structures and monuments throughout its' history which attracted my eye. Designed in 1910 by the architectural firm Helmle, Huberty and Hudswell who built many impressive structures in Brooklyn, the main building housed M and W bathrooms seperated by a covered curved colonnade.The beautiful neo-classical detailing of the structure isn't surprising as Helmle received his training at the well known architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. The yellow brick and limestone facade also features a beautiful segmented beadboard ceiling with trimwork picked out with yellow paint.I just think this is such a lovely building, don't you? I wonder what the original light fixtures were (the junction boxes are still in the ceiling)Located inside the crescent shaped building is a WWI memorial created by noted sculptor Carl Augustus Herber in 1923.In her left hand Winged Victory holds a laurel for victory and a palm frond for peace in the other.While I was drawn in by the architecture, I believe the locals simply appreciate the open space and lush green!

McGorlick Park is located between Driggs and Nassau Avenues & Russell and Monitor streets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
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NY in miniature

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While in NY this past weekend, I had to run an errand with friends at a Toys R Us and had a pleasant surprise; famous NY buildings in minature built of my favorite childhood toy, legos! The scale of the buildings was dead on and it was amazing how no detail was overlooked with the little bricks.

I loved the context of the buildings next to one another, the Statue of Liberty next to the Empire State Building.

The beloved Chrysler Building was also included.Even King Kong wasn't forgotten on the top of the Empire State Building!It was interesting to see Phillip Johnson's Lipstick Building at such a small scale but maybe a smooth curved building facade isn't the best out of clunky legos?

If you're in NY and find yourself near Times Square (AKA tourist h*ll), stop in Toys R Us at 1514 Broadway to see the sites (or at least stop by candyland for some treats!)
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Goodbye to summer, hello fall

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Sunset over the Potomac river from Georgetown.
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Exotic Taste: Orientalist Interiors

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Debuting this fall, along with a score of other delightful books, is "Exotic Taste: Orientalist Interiors" by Emmanuelle Gaillard from The Vendome Press.

Filled with incredible photography primarily by Marc Walters, the book showcases the love of exotic Eastern influences which began to inspire the Western world nearly 400 years ago.Orientalism came into fashion primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries when Western architects tired of the dominance of classicism and people longed for an escape from the everyday. Often times only a room was decorated in an exotic style to showcase a collection of porcelains or lacquerware, but occasionally you would see the emergence of a complete project, such as the Prince Regent's Chinese Inspired Royal Pavilion, seen below.

The book covers these and more, including art, fashion and the people it mesmerized such as Mark Twain, Russian Empress Catherine and Marie Antoinette's mother, Empress Maria Theresa (her own study seen in the top image).

Be sure to add this book to your Christmas wish list!
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West Village shopping

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While in New York the other week in the West Village I came across two stores which were just great experiences and so quintessential 'New York'.

First was 'The Meadow' which was a fascinating shop filled with an enormous collection of different salts in a rainbow of colors as well as chocolates, flowers and drink mixes: Delightful!

I bought an after dinner mint drink in a great vintage looking vial meant to aid digestion (but I really bought it for the cute bottle!). I was sorely tempted by the gorgeous flowers and all of the salts though! Did you have any idea so many types of salt existed?

Directly next door is a great little shop full of great gift ideas : Leo Design. How often do you find a vintage store with a decidely masculine aire rather than feminine? Every single item in this store I wanted to take home with me but thankfully (for my wallet) I came out empty handed. Be sure to stop by these 2 great shops next time you are in the village!

Leo Design is located at 543 Hudson Street

The Meadow is at 523 Hudson Street in NYC


3731 N. Mississippi Avenue in Portland, OR.
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Ralph's flowers

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As many of you know, last week was fashion week in NY. A good friend of mine sent me a few gorgeous photos from the fashion show and I thought I would share them with you. The flowers in the entry were just spectacular.

Here is the Lauren family taking in the show front and center. Can't you feel the glamour? See more coverage of the Ralph Lauren fashion show HERE at Habitually Chic. Enjoy your weekend!
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Townsend Mansion

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Recently I attended an alumni event at the Cosmos Club which is housed in the old Townsend Mansion.This mansion along embassy row has long been one of my favorite stately Beaux Arts houses of DC, designed by renowned architects Carrere and Hastings and finished in 1901. Fittingly enough, John M. Carrere had been a member of the Cosmos Club from 1905 until his death in 1911.A true townhouse, the design is a piano nobile, with the primary rooms on the second floor, further away from street noise and dust. After entering the grand foyer seen above, you ascend into a grand hall, reminiscent of the great halls of stately country manors, large enough to double as an entertaining space.This is the staircase today on the 2nd floor. The configuration has changed a bit from the original with the parlor now serving as entry hall and the doorways into the hall and small parlor being closed.The parlor has not changed much and is the most beautiful room in the house.Rather than art hung on the walls (with the exception of the portrait above the mantel), they are painted with beautiful murals with the delicate plasterwork painted white.You can see how impressive this room is, but not over scaled for the size of the house.Fascinating to see the workings of a private club with piles of daily newspapers on this table.This doorway leads you to the main hall.Loved this bust of Benjamin Franklin and you can see a bit of detailing in the murals.Adjacent to the parlor is the 'small parlor' decorated in more of an Empire style.As you can see, this room hasn't changed much either. The damask wall hangings have been replaced with plain painted plaster.Based on the photographs, a lot of the furnishings are from the original owner, Mary Scott Townsend, although used in different areas of the house.This table was originally in the library, next door.Mrs. Townsend lived in the mansion until her death in 1931 when her daughter and husband moved in, Mathilde & B. Sumner Welles. During WWII, the house was leased to the Canadian Women's army corps and was later sold to the Cosmos Club in 1950 for only $364,635 (after they had been paid $1,000,000 for their previous space - smart financial move). The club has taken immaculate care of the house and continues to do so. In 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.Here you see the library in Mrs. Townsend's time. It has had some changes, many years ago to my eye as they feel residential, probably under the care of her daughter Mrs. Welles.
Here you see the table which now is in the small parlor.This original fireplace above has been replace with a much older renaissance styled chimneypiece.The intricate plaster and wood beamed ceilings are original although now painted white.Even the hall has a fireplace. The mantels found throughout the house were much deeper than any I had seen before, well over 24".Across the hall from the library is the dining room with breakfast room alcove.The room is richly paneled with a painted ceiling.

Here too the fireplace mantels have been traded out for much simpler ones which are still appropriate to the space.

On the opposite side of the room from the fireplace is a built-in marble server, matching the mantel.Here you begin to see the ornate ceiling decoration. The recessed lights are obviously not original and clearly unfortunate. A detail of the beautiful paneling.The Cosmos Club has expanded far beyond the original building through numerous additions and also acquiring adjacent properties. The dining room has become an internal room now and this walkway goes past the breakfast room bay.The hall is artfully treated as a conservatory which I feel respects the original house.The ballroom on the plan above is currently being renovated so I was unable to get a picture, but here is one from Mrs. Townsend's time.The bedrooms upstairs were no less grand or less sumptuously detailed than the main rooms below.At the end of the hall is entry to the garden which is still a beautiful place; the sound of trickling water from the fountain drowns out noise from passing traffic. Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr, the gardens have been substantially altered.

All historic photos from the Library of Congress: color photos are from my cellphone camera.
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